The latest analysis of the car rental industry predicts a compound annual growth rate of 6.1 percent from 2020 to 2025. Technology in the form of online booking has enhanced rental firms ability to reach their customers. However, it has also enabled peer-to-peer ride and car sharing. This “sharing” industry can and does compete with rental agencies. Peer-to-peer car sharing is essentially a peer-to-peer car rental, and services like Truro are effectively direct competitors to traditional car rental services. Car rental companies are not blind to the possible threat, and have pushed for more legislation regarding ride shares. Car rental companies have also begun developing their own car sharing services like Enterprise Car Share, or Avis’ spinoff Zipcar. Tweaking the way car rental companies present their vehicles to their customers may be a more successful way protecting their core business, and establishing new car sharing services.
The success of ride and car sharing services shows that while the traditional rental market is growing, there are market segments that are unfulfilled. To capture the largest percentage of future industry growth, car rental companies need to offer better customer service, and expand their service offerings. Car rental photos are integral to improving the traditional car rental experience, developing apps to make renting easier, and creating competitive car sharing services, making agencies more responsive to changing customer needs.
HOW THE GIG ECONOMY COMPETES WITH TRADITIONAL CAR RENTALS
Ride sharing was the first development in the “sharing” industry, more commonly known as the gig economy. It leveraged smartphones to enable a peer-to-peer ride service. Those with cars could easily connect with and be paid by those who needed rides. Instead of trying to find a cab company, or paying to rent a car for a set period of time, users can just pay per ride. It’s more economical for many to pay per leg than to rent a car just for traveling from an airport to a conference and back. The advent of ride hailing devastated the cab industry, causing several large taxi operators to go out of business. As of yet, peer-to-peer platforms have had only a slight impact on the car rental industry.
Car rentals are still more convenient for stays of a few days to a few weeks. It is also less inconvenient to have a car ready in a parking lot than it is to summon a ride for every trip. Car rental agencies also work better for travel with specific needs like taking a junior sports team to an away game, or a scouting troop camping. Even extra large services in ride-sharing companies typically lack the very large vans needed to transport a little league team while rental companies had the passenger vans in their fleet to fulfill both needs. The same cannot be said about peer-to-peer car sharing.
The largest of these peer car sharing firms, Turo, has developed in a way that makes it a direct competitor for car rental companies. It is also a fast growing service that has doubled its vehicle inventory in the last two years, and recently received a $250 million investment. It has an additional advantage over traditional car rental in that it can even offer renters the option to rent specific cars, with selections that include rare luxury and classic vehicles. National car rental agencies don’t allow most of their renters to select specific models, only letting them choose a class that includes multiple models they might receive. The lack of specificity can leave car rental customers feeling powerless, and possibly even anxious over concern about what they might get. Car rental photos can help inform customers, calm their concerns, and keep car rental companies competitive in a changing market.
PHOTOS OF RENTAL CARS HELP CAR RENTALS COMPETE IN NEW MARKET SEGMENTS
Staying competitive in a changing car rental industry requires rental agencies to better serve their customers. Making car rental easier with access to cars through both websites and digital apps helps. Giving the customers more information about the cars and a greater degree of control over the rentals they receive will make traditional car rental agencies more competitive with car sharing services. Car rental photos can help car rental agencies deliver both better apps and improved customer confidence.
Casually browsing through a peer-to-peer car sharing service will offer the opportunity to view listings for a number of rental cars available in the search area. In each of those listings, the customer can review a generous number of photos of the car for rent. This gives them a complete overview of the car, and a good idea of what renting it for a day, weekend, or longer would be like. This level of engagement can help the customer get excited about their car rental. They can simply look at the imagery of a sporty or quirky model and envision how much fun they’re going to have. In contrast, traditional car rental sites with only a single car picture for each class will encourage them to consider only the prices, choose the cheapest available, and hope they don’t get stuck with a particular model. With car sharing they can make an informed, and even excited decision when they choose a rental car. The same cannot be said about renting from a traditional car rental company’s site.
Traditional car rental websites provide a single vehicle image in profile, or a three-quarter view from the front. This single image covers an entire class which includes models from several different makes. The customer is quite likely to receive keys to a model they may not even have known was an option when they made their booking at the rental counter. It doesn’t inspire confidence, or loyalty towards the rental agency. The same applies to the car sharing options that major car rental agencies have created. Increasing the number of car rental photos available can help to change this in the minds of customers.
HOW CAR RENTAL PHOTOS HELP RENTAL AGENCIES IN A CHANGING MARKET
High resolution studio-quality car photos that provide a complete overview of a car are a must for car rental agencies moving forward in a changing market. Providing a complete photographic overview of not just a single vehicle in a class, but for every vehicle in a class allows customers to rent according to their needs rather than just assume, and hope for a suitable car. They may wish to upgrade or change the class of vehicle they’re renting just so they guarantee adequate space and seating, or enough cargo room for their needs. With documentation of all the cars in each class, they will have a way to know for sure if a car fits their needs before making the booking. Car rental agencies that display these photos will have a competitive advantage compared to those that don’t. With their national and international fleets of vehicles, routine maintenance, and consistent standards, rental agencies that provide these photos will be well-equipped to compete with competition like car or ride sharing services.
These photos will also stand car rental agencies in good stead if they should choose to expand their reach to smartphones with easy-to-use consumer apps. Premium car stock photos are essential to making an engaging, informative, and exciting consumer experience. Using these images on a website or smartphone app will encourage casual browsing, and possibly build excitement and anticipation for their upcoming trip. The use of car rental photos can be used outside of direct listing pages too. Staff picks and illustrated car editorials from rental agencies about their inventory will help customers keep a particular car, and the car rental agency that offers it in mind should they have an upcoming vacation or business trip ahead of them.
Car rental agencies can easily find the assets they need to keep their websites and new apps competitive by expanding their current use of car stock photos. The right car rental photos for a changing industry will include multiple exterior and interior views for each model that a rental agency offers. This will encourage customers to plan their trip with a rental agency in mind, and even build excitement for renting a car rather than just looking at per-day rental prices and hoping they get lucky with what they receive. It is a simple change that positions car rental agencies to better compete in a changing car rental market.